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Baltimore Symphony show house returns at 200-year-old stone farmhouse

After a one-year hiatus, the Baltimore Symphony Associates Decorators' Show House is back, featuring the creativity of more than two dozen designers who have applied their talents to a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in Timonium.

From April 30 through May 21, visitors can tour the 20 transformed spaces of the Mayfair mansion, a house built in 1812 for a member of the Cockey family, for whom Cockeysville is named.

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Drawing inspiration from the three-story rustic home, area designers have peppered rooms with an eclectic mix of traditional and modern furnishings. The spaces in the show house range from the elegant living room designed around a baby grand piano to a third-floor alcove set up for a children's night of stargazing.

"We thought it was going to be an amazing project and a challenge," says Georgia Economakis, a student in a Community College of Baltimore County design class that decorated the kitchen and butler's pantry.

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The seven students in the class stripped two layers of wallpaper and painted the walls a bright teal to add color to a room dominated by dark wooden cabinets and a brick fireplace. They chose a rustic kitchen table and Windsor-style chairs, but set teal metal stools around a dining counter for contrast.

"We didn't want it to be matchy-matchy," says Ayana Carter, another student in the class, who described the look they achieved as "country chic."

Kensington designer Rhonald Angelo chose similarly contrasting pieces for a second-floor landing that he envisioned as an artist's showplace. He hung bright modern art on walls covered in a traditional beige damask paper. A claw-footed round antique table contrasts with acrylic chairs covered with sheepskin. The eclectic composition, Angelo says, allows "individual pieces to speak with their own voices."

The varied styles are also evident in the master bedroom designed by Russell Slouck, who furnished the room with pieces from his York Road consignment shop. The result, he says, is a room that is traditional but not antique. "We live today," he says. "I'm not trying to re-create the past."

Slouck used a lavender-and-mauve color scheme to complement the room's gray toile wallpaper. The colors are apparent in the room's focal point — a giant elephant intricately painted on the headboard of the bed. Objects throughout the room catch the visitor's eye, including antique Italian lamps on a marble-topped dresser and Japanese calendars that hang in a recessed dressing nook.

Designers Barbara Brown and Quintece Hill-Mattauszek teamed up to create a lady's study meant to illustrate how pieces collected over a lifetime can be tastefully presented together.

In the room, they have placed ornate antique candelabras beside modern raspberry-cushioned chairs. A large abstract painting reflects the rich pink-and-purple hues that are highlighted throughout the room. Brown painted her grandmother's secretary desk a high-gloss light mustard, a shade similar to that of the palm branches on the ceiling wallpaper.

The duo ripped out a closet and placed a small, white writing desk in the recessed space. "This is a great example of how you can take any area of the home and make it important," Brown says.

In a third-floor bedroom, designers Katie Heyman and Angela Smith positioned a bed that appears to be hanging from the ceiling, although it is actually mounted to the floor. They also mixed and matched furnishings, placing a clear acrylic desk in front of a window and a rough-hewn dresser against a wall. Oriental accents and tortoise shell sculptures add visual interest to the space.

The show house designers say they draw inspiration from a variety of sources. Some say they began with a rug or a wall hanging.

Baltimore designer Dawn Blount-Walker says she created a men's lounge in an angled second-floor room because that seemed to be what the space demanded. "This room had a voice," she says. "I walked in the door, and this is what fell out of my head."

In her design, a round game table and gray, upholstered midcentury modern chairs stand on a round rug with bright orange diamond shapes. On the other side of the room, she placed a light-blue sectional sofa before a flat-screen TV and electric fireplace.

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"It's for a man to come and sip whiskey and watch football," she says.

Show house veteran Paula Henry says she wanted to turn the living room into an elegant entertaining space and began with a baby grand piano that is a focal point in the room, designed in blues and grays. Square patterns made from white molding are affixed to the dark-blue ceiling and the square motif is evident in the rug, the painting above the fireplace and in the doors of a credenza.

Henry says designing a room in a show house always requires flexibility. An art piece she had wanted to put above the fireplace was sold just days before the show's preview, and a chair that she thought was going to be orange turned out red. She draped an orange throw over the red chair and selected another art piece for the wall.

Columbia designer Wendy Appleby also had to make some adjustments. Appearing in the Baltimore Symphony show house for the first time, she initially chose a small bedroom to decorate, but the design committee asked her to take on the mansion's dining room instead. She drew inspiration from a portrait she discovered and designed the room using a palette of blues, grays and burnished metal.

Entertaining was also on Carol Lombardo Weil's mind when she transformed a second-floor bedroom into a room where family and friends could gather to play games and work on puzzles. The brightly colored walls feature an unusual paint treatment that uses yellow, brown and tan to give a vaguely striped affect.

Throughout the room, Weil has placed accents to challenge the mind, including a 3-D puzzle of Harry Potter's Hogwarts school, adult coloring books and a Ferris wheel designed by a Towson University calculus class. Inspirational sayings from Mark Twain and Albert Einstein are written on chalkboards hung high on the wall.

"I knew the concept right away," she says. "I wanted bold and lively."

Although the designers worked independently, the color schemes and designs flow remarkably well, says event co-chairwoman Carolyn Stadfeld.

She says organizers are thrilled they are able to offer a show house this year after the event was canceled last year because the group could not find a house.

The event is expected to draw 7,000 to 8,000 visitors and raise more than $100,000, which will go to the symphony's educational programs, she says.

If you go

Dates: Sunday, April 30, through May 21

Hours: Noon to 4 p.m. Sundays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays.

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Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at bso.org and at select locations, including Graul's Markets.

Parking and shuttle: Available with a $2 donation at the Timonium light rail station.

For more information, visit bso.org and click on calendar of events.

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